20 Idol Crushing Questions by Tim Keller

20 Idol Crushing Questions by Tim Keller


20 piercing questions from Tim Keller. These are great questions to ask when counseling, prepping a sermon–and (gasp!) to ask ourselves to diagnose heart idols. Consider getting Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters

“Life only has meaning/I only have worth if…

  1. I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)
  2. I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)
  3. I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort idolatry)
  4. I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control idolatry)
  5. people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)
  6. someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)
  7. I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence idolatry)
  8. I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work idolatry)
  9. I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement idolatry)
  10. I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism idolatry)
  11. I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion idolatry)
  12. This one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)
  13. I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion idolatry)
  14. My race and culture is ascendant and recognized as superior.” (Racial/cultural idolatry)
  15. A particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring idolatry)
  16. My children and/or my parents are happy and happy with me.” (Family idolatry)
  17. Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)
  18. I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering idolatry)
  19. my political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology idolatry)
  20. I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)

[HT: Vitamin Z]

  1. I think he’s taking idolatry to the extreme, almost to the point of it being illogical. Everyone is guilty of these things in some form or another but I don’t necessarily regard everything he lists as idolatry. I’m not buying the guilt-centered theology he’s peddling. I’ll rely on Christ’s perfection and not obsess over every single shortcoming in my life. For heaven’s sake he makes it sound like we’re all still living under the Law.

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  3. Woodstein, don’t forget the first half of each of the 20 sentences: “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if…” I don’t think Keller is focused on whether we are guilty or not guilty of anything. He’s saying, for example, that if my identity and meaning are wrapped up in being loved and respected by someone — i.e., that is the source of my joy and satisfaction — then approval may have replaced Jesus as the object of my devotion.

  4. Family, friends relationships, achievements by themselves aren’t necessarily wrong nor sinful. In fact, they are God’s gifts to us. However, it’s when we’re willing to sin in order to get things then and only then those things become idols.
    Tim Keller got it right. Yes it’s indeed the sin of idolatry when God’s gifts replace the place of the Giver in our hearts.

  5. Jeb nailed it. Most, likely ALL, of these things are not sinful. Rather, it is when they become supreme desires, trumping love/satisfaction for God Himself.

    Likewise, no saint is condemned for such short-sited desires. Rather, his own joy is being cut-off by his drinking from broken cisterns.

  6. There are many he didn’t list, like gaming and the need to be the ‘best’ or the ‘need’ to feel accomplished in a game–not being able to ‘walk’ away from it because “I have this goal to complete’ and that’s more important than anything else.

    Or I can’t go any where without my cell phone, because I am just so important that someone is going to call me and I will miss that call.

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